David Hamilton


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Why can't I watch a funny cartoon about Muhammad? On South Park 201...

For those of you unfamiliar with the television show South Park... I don't blame you. In the first few years it ran, it was the most sophomoric, and disgusting show on television, but it was also a funny, guilty pleasure. As the artists who created this show grew older, it maintained the ability to give you a cheap laugh, but also became an outlet of real integrity.

In episode 201, they decided to tackle the topic of censorship, in one of the most raunchy, and disgusting tales ever concieved. In this episode, a child, feeds another child chilli, made from his deceased parents, and that is not censored. Jesus watches internet porn, whild Buddha does lines of cocaine off of a mirror... and no one felt any reason to censor that image... A picture of Muhammad however... That was censored, as was this speech.

Kyle to Tom Cruise

Mohammed's just some made up guy like Jesus and Santa Claus, that means people can believe anything they want about him: like you can't show him or hear his voice. But Tom Cruise is a real person, even though he is a celebrity. And if Tom Cruise believes people are making fun of him, well for him, that's real, just like some people's beliefs about Mohammed seem real to them.

Jesus talking to the Gingers:
You believed the goo was real, so real that you were ready to kill people for your beliefs. You were letting your imaginations run wild, and real people, not imaginary ones could have been hurt.

Santa Claus to everyone:
I know it can be hard when someone tries to ruin your image- like Coca-Cola giving me this stupid red suit and fat belly- but your real and don't have to accept the things people say about you as true. Just like we don't have to believe that showing Mohammed will bring a Muslim holy war to South Park.

I think this censorship is absurd. The creators were willing to risk their lives for their art, and no one, should do anything but respect that... Why am I wrong?

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    Sep 1 2012: In France there was a satirical newspaper who printed a cover that read "special sharia edition" (it was back when Libya enforced Sharia law during the transition) with a guy (possibly Muhammad) saying "a thousand lashes if you're not dying out from laughter". The newspaper's HQ was bombed as a warning not to print out the newspaper. Charlie Hebdo did it anyway and instead of saying the humor was in poor taste or some other subjective counter-argument (I seem to recall that's what some British newspapers did), most serious French newspapers defended the right of Charlie Hebdo to print their newspapers. That is how it should go down. Stoicism in the face of violence. You cave in to threatening once, you'll get threatened again.
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      Sep 1 2012: Brilliant
    • Sep 1 2012: I agree. We cannot let anyone silence critique of an idea, religion, ideology or customs just become someone has certain feelings about the subject. Criticism is an important tool that individuals used for hundred of years to progress our society and to prevent unreasonable ideologies to control us.

      Someone being offended is unfortunate but not a good reason to withdraw a criticism. Otherwise we would have to stop criticize anything because someone will always be offended no matter what.

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    Sep 3 2012: I think not showing episode #201 was a play on the fears of Muslim retaliation. The America I want to live in is where "there is nothing to fear but fear itself". Show the dag on episode!
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    Sep 1 2012: I think Jesus & Mohammed have a bit more historical credibility than Santa Claus.
    It is a pity that some of us just cannot laugh at ourselves. It is also a pity that others enjoy winding them up. Why can't we just love one another, & consider each others feelings. That said, political correctness is a greater enemy.

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    Sep 1 2012: I was so happy watching this episode.
    They managed to show exactly what it's like to have to censor something funny and portrayed it brilliantly.
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    Gail .

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    Sep 1 2012: You are not wrong in that regard.
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    Sep 1 2012: To me there is a vast difference in a religion and a "Radical" religion.

    In one God sent his only son to die for your sins.

    In the other The diety is asking you to die for him.

    It is not my purpose to sway your choice but rather as an explaination to the question. The second see the cartoon as personal and not against the diety but rather against them as they are the vessels of the faith. By defending the faith they have gained favor and will enter into the garden of the diety.

    As long as religious wars are allowed there will be fear .... bombings and killings are a common occurance to anyone who in the eyes of the believer has insulted the diety. That is a real fear and some have given into it and therefore, in my opinion strengthened the religious warriors and their cause.

    The station, network, producers, or who ever have weighed the consequences and caved in. Therefore the answer to your question is the reason you cannot watch the episode #201.

    This is my perception and not meant as an insult to either religion discussed.

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      Sep 1 2012: I would suggest that Islam is not anymore "Radical" than Christianity. When it was founded, many Christians experienced poverty, and descrimination, and thus reacted much the same way extremists in the muslim faith act today. This is actually part of my problem... I think it was offensive to the religion of Islam that we did not show the cartoon. I don't believe the average person, who happens to be muslim, will be violent in reaction to a cartoon show. To suggest that there is a connection between Islam and violence over humor is unacceptable in my view.

      You may mention the instances in which a Muslim group or individual attacked an artist for exactly that. Did the guy who killed John Lennon do it for Jodi Foster? People are crazy, one religion no crazier than the other however.
      • Sep 1 2012: Thanks David for great insight. I never thought about it from such perspective.
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        Sep 2 2012: "offensive to the religion of Islam that we did NOT show the cartoon"

        This is indeed a very interesting perspective.
      • Sep 4 2012: An excellent point David.

        By not showing the cartoon, we seem to be suggesting that Islam has been hijacked by extremists.
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    Sep 1 2012: Some sacrifices have to be made to keep the peace. If one realises that one's expression of freedom may be offensive and result in extreme reactions, then it is better to avoid such.
    That is what charity and goodwill is all about.
    Muslims all over the world are passionate about Mohammed; and there are so many other ways to laugh and have a good time than making fun of a respected spiritual leader.
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      Sep 1 2012: They're not making fun of a spiritual leader. They're mocking the cowardice of American TV broadcasters.
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      Sep 1 2012: "Some sacrifices have to be made to keep the peace"... I agree completely, and that is why, just as Christians, and Jews did before them... In order to live in a world of peace and prosperity, with their fellow human beings, the Muslim faith, will have to develop a sense of humor about itself. When the faith preaches that violence, is an acceptable reaction to humor, it ceases to have any interest in keeping the peace, in my humble opinion.
    • Sep 1 2012: Where do you stop in making your sacrifices? Extremists will persist until you will not be able to publish anything at all. I think expression of freedom has to be upheld at all cost otherwise this will become a slippery slope. Those that are offended can ignore other's exercise their freedom of speech.

      Of course freedom of expression has its limits and one cannot entice violence or be disrespectful of someone's physical or mental abilities.
    • Sep 4 2012: "Some sacrifices have to be made to keep the peace."

      It appears that you are suggesting that people of the USA give up the right to free speech, in order to keep the peace. In part, that was the reason our ancestors fought a war. You are treading on one of our sacred beliefs.

      Personally, I do not insult or belittle the beliefs of others, as a simple matter of courtesy. But if someone tells me I do not have the right to do so, we will have a major disagreement.
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        Sep 4 2012: Recently a major blow on US/Afghan relationship was the burning of copies of the Koran by US soldiers in Afghanistan.
        I'm not an advocate of extremism in any form; but someone who sees nothing wrong in burning articles considered sacred by his host nation must have started by watching TV shows that belittles or mocks Mohammed.
        The US is trying hard to improve US/Arab relations; and being a bit more considerate in issues of this sort is essential.
        • Sep 4 2012: I agree with you. As I said, to me this is just common courtesy.

          I also think that Muslims must learn that we consider our freedoms just as sacred as they consider the Koran. There are many on both sides that must learn very simple but very important lessons.